TAWAU: Maybe it is not wrong to describe the Tanjung Tawau market here as a shoppers’ paradise because it offers almost all kinds of daily essentials and other goods.
Established in 1999 in Sabah’s third largest town, the three-storey market has some 6,000 shops and stalls, making it the largest “indoor market” in Malaysia.
Shoppers can find almost everything they fancy here from handicrafts, pots and pans to children’s toys as well as vegetables, spices, sea and agriculture produce.
Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as various dried food including the popular locally-made traditional crackers amplang are sold on the ground floor.
As for enthusiasts of handicraft and souvenir items, its topmost floor offers various woven mats and baskets, among others.
This floor is also known as Pasar Gantung as there are various types of textiles, clothes and hand-made garments from the local ethnic groups, besides those from Indonesia and the Philippines.
The market’s middle floor has shops that offer a wide variety of dried seafood such as anchovies, shrimps, squids as well as the famed seaweed from Sabah’s waters.
Medium-sized anchovies sell for only RM25 per kilo here. The same type is sold for at least RM40 per kilo at markets in Selangor.
Shopkeepers will help to pack the dried seafood in boxes for customers who need to take a flight home.
The Tanjung Tawau market is also one of the best places to buy dried seaweed in bulk.
Semporna, a district near Tawau, is the location of Malaysia’s seafood industry, making Tawau and Tanjung Tawau the primary route for the trading of seaweed.
There are three types of dried seaweed in the market categorised by their colour – grey, red and green.
A villager, who only wanted to be known as Syafiqah, said there was nothing much to differentiate the three types of seaweed.
“Actually it is the same seaweed. The different colour is due to the different ways of drying the seaweed used by harvesters.
“Seaweed dried in closed and shaded places will retain the greyish colour while those that are dried under the sun will become reddish orange,” she said.
As for the green seaweed, the vegetation is soaked in natural colouring substance to make it more attractive.
A check at shops in Klang Valley showed the greyish dried seaweed sells at between RM35 and RM45 per 100g.
But in Tawau, the same seaweed sells for only RM10 per kilo.
It is RM20 per kilo at the Filipino market in Kota Kinabalu.
Sabah is the only seaweed producing state in Malaysia and is expected to increase the production of this commodity to meet the increasing global demand.
So far, the seaweed aqua-culture industry is developed in Semporna as a National Key Economic Area (NKEA) under a mini estate project involving the Kappaphycus alverazii and Euchema spinosom species.
A Universiti Malaysia Sabah study said the state was expected to produce 150,000 tonnes of processed high quality seaweed valued at RM1.45bil a year by 2020. — Bernama